Relating species richness, upland coldwater fish species, and temperature in North Georgia’s trout streams
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The Georgia legislature recently reduced the mandatory riparian buffer width on primary trout streams from 100 to 50 ft. To evaluate the potential effects of this policy change, the Trout Stream Buffer Study established 30 sites along primary trout streams in North Georgia. We investigated the relationships between fish diversity and temperature conditions. In 2001, fish population data were collected yielding relative abundance data on 49 fish species representing 8 families. Species richness was positively correlated with and significantly related to stream temperatures. Since previous studies have suggested that the species richness measure is likely not to reflect shifts in community composition from upland specialist to lowland generalist fish species, we conducted a preliminary investigation of the relationship between the relative abundance of highland endemic and upland restricted fish species and stream temperature. A significant negative relationship exists between increasing temperature and the relative abundance of highland endemic and upland restricted fish species. This suggests that stream temperature is one of the variables contributing to the distribution of upland coldwater and lowland warm water fishes.